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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, April 08, 2016

Making a Police Report because you're Rejected

Kerfuffle of the day:

Woman files police report against Tampines 1 for alleged racial discrimination; mall issues apology

"A woman filed a police report on Friday (April 8) against Tampines 1 shopping mall, alleging that she was subjected to racial discrimination by an employee of the mall.

The mall had earlier issued a public apology to businesswoman Diana Hairul, and told The Straits Times it had counselled the employee about her actions.

Ms Diana, 36, who uploaded on Facebook on Thursday (April 7) evening a screenshot of an e-mail she received from the employee, wrote that she had felt discriminated by the reply.

The e-mail read: "Hi Dee, We are not so keen to run a Malay road show as our target audience are mainly Chinese. Thus, we regret to inform you that we are unable to rent a space to you"...

Responding to queries AsiaMalls said on Friday (April 8) morning that it was taking the matter seriously. However, it said all attempts to speak to Diana so far had been unreturned...

In subsequent e-mail correspondences seen by The Straits Times, the employee had requested for Ms Diana to provide her with the fair's intended merchandise mix before rejecting her with an e-mail saying that the mall's target audience was Chinese...

The employee also suggested that Ms Diana consider holding the fair at the nearby Century Square - also owned by AsiaMalls - instead"

Inquiring minds might want to know: just what was the merchandise mix that led Jen to reject Ms Hairul?

A look at Ms Hairul's Facebook page suggests the answer:

"Thank you Sembawang Shopping Centre for the opportunity.

And yes we are still in Sembawang till end of the week. Hope to see you guys there.

We will be restocking Isabelle and Miss Lofa and other designs too.

Salam Jumaat to my Muslim brothers and sisters and to my Non Muslim friends have a great day ahead."

Presumably, Ms Hairul wanted to sell hijabs at a mall targeted at Chinese.

It must be noted that Tampines 1, though presumably targeting Chinese, has 2 Halal certified food and beverage outlets (according to the website - some others are probably Halal too). So it's not like the mall is "non-Chinese" unfriendly.

One might question if it is appropriate for a mall to target specific races.

Of course, the phrasing of Jen's email was unfortunate, but really, if I wanted to sell bak kwa (pork jerky) in Geylang Serai, what would happen?

The reality is that commercial establishments target specific demographics, or at least wish to project a certain image of those demographics all the time.

Mustafa Centre targets Indians and South Asians. Their webpage notes that their traditional image is "tourists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka, and Asia" (note the order). If I were to try to open a Szechuan Hotpot restaurant there, there is a high chance that I would be turned down, and I can imagine a staff member telling me that "We are not so keen to have a Szechuan Hotpot Restaurant as our target audience are mainly of South Asian descent".

Golden Mile has a Thai branding. A proposal to house a Szechuan Hotpot restaurant would probably be similarly rejected.

Meanwhile, *Scape targets youth - if I wanted to set up a gout clinic there I would probably be turned away.

Of course, one might be concerned if minorities were unable to find any place to sell their wares (or similar opportunities to be seen in the public domain) but this is assuredly not the case: Jen offered Century Square as an alternative venue for Ms Hairul. Interestingly, it has 10 Halal certified eating places versus Tampines 1's 2.

Perhaps the saddest part of this whole episode is that, as someone observed, "This is going to set up a perverse incentive for people NOT to want to work with folks like this because they are too much drama."
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